Playing in the Impact Zone: Part Two

With WWE '12 hitting the stores this week, and none of us purchasing it due to having no favourite wrestlers to play as (see part one), we continue to look at what we want from a new TNA game!

From Jobber to Champ

Erm... Salty Biscuits 
Unless your name is Crimson, a wrestler is very unlikely you will make your debut and get a title shot within the same year, but the common season mode of wrestling games tends to be that way these day. A continuous career for around five years would be a good option, as it allows you to work your way up the card and through the titles. It could even include the BFG series, which would set a pace that doesn't seem rushed and puts the season in a similar game length to those that would be played in other sports games such as FIFA or NHL. 

As interesting as the story mode was in the original Impact, I would prefer a move away from this very scripted mode, as it left little room to manoeuvre. The biggest pain was that you had to win every single match; again putting you on par with Crimson! You moved through the roster, gaining championship belts as you went and had no say in the direction of your character. Now, for a new game, I don't expect the mass details Yuke's have infused into the WWE's career mode over time, but I do expect some choices, such as which title to go for first, who to have as my tag team partner, who to feud with, etc. These are all choices that were available during the PS2 iterations of the WWE games, so it's not too much to ask for, as I don't want to be in another tag team with EY called the Salty Biscuits! 

Full Metal Mayhem 

The other area of the game I would like to see expanded are the match types. The first game had Ultimate X, but compare that to the multiple match types on offer in WWE '12, in which a number of competitors can compete in various match types including ladders, cages, last man standing, first blood, etc. Building on the types of matches would spin out the length of game play and with the inclusion of ladder matches, would bring in more weapons, compared to the odd chair that was scattered around the ring side area in an unrealistic fashion. 

Making some improvements to Ultimate X and creating matches such as Full Metal Mayhem and King of the Mountain would give gamers new match types that they will not have played before, such as the excitement of when HIAC was first introduced into the Smackdown series.

Yukes have done well ironing out issues with their games, which TNA should learn from. If they follow the annual release structure of typical sports games, they would be in a position whereby we would be debating between picking up TNA or WWE, just like football fans do with FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer every year. Hopefully, we will get our hands on a new game within the next year and it could have the same impact Smackdown had when it replaced Attitude, with TNA growing as a brand. The next logical step is to try and grow into this lucrative gaming market. 



Drafting In New Faces

After picking up the latest Fighting Spirit Magazine (FSM - http://www.fightingspiritmagazine.co.uk/), the article 'Trading Places' set my thoughts alight. Having been a big EWR player, among other management simulations, I couldn't stop thinking about which athletes I would draft into TNA to improve the product. The article in FSM looks at those in TNA and WWE who are being used improperly, require a fresh gimmick and those who would just fit better within the other company. They list a number of people to bring into TNA, including the likes of Dolph Ziggler, Rey Mysterio, Beth Phoenix and Jack Swagger. Whilst I agree with the trades and reasons given, I have been thinking of others who would (not necessarily for personal reasons) better TNA.

Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team - Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin - ROH

File:19a.-TWGTT-Haas-&-Benjamin-Postmatch-crop,-RLA-Melb-10.11.2007.jpgWith Beer Money going their separate ways and the World Heavyweight Title coming between Storm and Roode, there are now only a handful of recognisable teams left in what was once an exciting cornerstone of the company. WGGT would fill the hole that Beer Money have vacated and unlike other teams, fans will recognise the pair from their time with WWE, either as singles or as a team; depending on how far back people can remember as TWGTT or Team Angle. As such, they would not have to be built up as other new teams coming into the company would be.
WGTT could enter the division and immediately mix it up with the current teams on the roster, provide entertaining matches and elevate the division back to the point where Beer Money and Motor City Machine Guns were prominent parts of TV and PPV shows. 
Haas and Benjamin have proved themselves a top team and would fit perfectly into the TNA tag division. Both are also accomplished in their own right, should they ever wish to pursue a single's career. They would bring a much needed stability and excitement to the division,  providing entertaining match ups with a number of the current teams on the roster. 

Jack Evans - AAA

File:Jack Evans handstand.jpgA face and name known to TNA fans after his exceptional performances in the build up to and the contract match at Destination X, where he lost out to Austin Aries. Although, despite losing out, he was the one name on all the fans lips and even trended on twitter after his first appearance on Impact Wrestling.
Evans would fit right into the X Division and would put on show-stealing matches with a number of the talent already in the division, whether it be a title match against Austin Aries or rivalries with Jesse Sorenson or Zema Ion. He is the athlete that every fan wanted  on the roster when the X Division was relaunched and would be a welcome addition to the roster.

CM Punk - WWE

File:CM Punk WWE Champion.jpgNot that TNA needs any more top tier talent, but who wouldn't want CM Punk in the main event of a TNA PPV? I was excited when his contract was up in WWE and the slight possibility this move could happen, but more fool me. 
WWE, historically, prefer the big man in their main event, which makes Punk the odd one out. However, his size and in-ring style would fit perfectly into TNA. For instance, he could have a number of high profile matches with his old ROH rivals in A.J. Styles, Christopher Daniels and  Samoa Joe. All of which, in my view, have potential to be match of the year.
There is little else that needs to be said about Punk, as his jumping ship would be as massive as Bret Hart moving to WCW in 1997. 

Chris Jericho 

File:Chris Jericho Milwaukee WI 031008.jpgThe legend who would be great in TNA. Like Punk, his size and in ring style are perfect to mix it up with the talent currently on the TNA roster and I personally would love to see one last Jericho / Angle match up.
Despite being the first Undisputed Champion in WWE, I have always felt that Jericho has been mistreated by not being utilised in a position he deserves.

Not only being a top draw, he would also be able to boost the stock of some younger athletes by being paired with them in singles match ups. His credibility and draw would boost TNA and bring along a number of viewers who wouldn't normally bother converting from WWE. Which, in turn, would generate a lot of media attention. 

Sadly, this is all fantasy trading, some are more likely to happen than others, but if TNA want to overturn WWE as the biggest wrestling promotion in the world, then these are the sort of acquisitions that would help. I have nothing against building up your own talent and hell, TNA have a lot of talented guys already on their roster, but one or two additions in the right places (especially in the tag team division), would freshen things up and hopefully bring in more viewers.   

Robbie G


Playing in the Impact Zone: Part One

The time of year has come around where Christmas shopping kicks into gear and the computer games market pumps out some of the biggest releases of the year. With that barrage comes the only wrestling game, WWE's annual release. The Smackdown games have been a staple of the games industry for a decade, building from the first release on the PSX, through a few name changes and now WWE '12 is only weeks a way from release. Can TNA re-enter this market and break WWE's chokehold?
TNA Impact! Screenshot
The only chance so far to be Styles
It has been 3 years since the release of TNA Impact! and to date is the company's only release on home console. If most viewers are like me, then we are screaming out for a new release, so we can play as our favourite superstars once again. 

I Want To Mic Check Daniels Through A Table!

WWE '12 looks like it will be a good game and Yuke's have perfected the look and style of the games over each release. But what good is the style when there are no wrestlers that you actually want to take control of? Looking through the roster, CM Punk is about the only current wrestler I would want to play as! It shows this year with the over reliance in big names from the past such as Stone Cold, Eddie Guerrero, Brock Lesnar and the centrepiece of all the advertising so far, The Rock!  
Hardy vs. Angle in a ladder match!
(WWF Smackdown 2: Know Your Role)
TNA have a wealth of likeable wrestlers that fans will want to take control of in either single bouts or a fully fledged career mode, which is where the first game was lacking. Only a handful of names were available to play as before unlocking the rest in a season mode, which you had to partake in as a created wrestler. 
Many of the current roster were either not included or not in TNA for the first game, leaving a wealth of talent including the likes of Jeff Hardy, Mr Anderson, Kazarian, RVD and Austin Aries that  fans are missing to create their dream matches.  

How Do I Kick Out?

As enjoyable as playing as your favourite wrestlers can be, it can be very annoying when the control systems let you down. The first Impact! game has a basic control system, which is great, as you can learn how to enact moves quickly, but it was let down by a few controls inparticular. The biggest, in my view, was that you had to vigorously waggle the analogue stick to fill up a bar to be able to kick out of a pin. This often had me losing matches I had been dominating and only been hit by a few moves. 
TNA Impact! Screenshot
Not the thrills Ultimate X usualy provides
It was also difficult to pin point areas in which to attack, as heads and torsos were the only areas to get injured, meaning getting anybody to tap out for a submission was very unlikely. Ultimate X was fun up until the point of trying to get down the X, which took six or more attempts to fill your meter and having to just kick your opponent down, which in turn made it boring and repetitive.
Tagging in your partner was also a pain due to the same button controlling multiple other tasks. Many times when you would want to tag you ended up climbing the turn-buckle to the top rope or exiting the ring, which is just a pain, especially when there are other buttons on the controller going to waste. 

With a progression of the control system and a more simulation feel, rather than beat em up style, TNA could give the WWE series a run for it's money on the console front. Looking at what was included on the handheld only TNA Impact!: Cross the Line and the subsequent mobile game, the ideas are there, we are just waiting for the end product!  

In part two, we will be looking at how the career mode can be improved upon and which match types should be included!

Robbie G 


Impact Wrestling Musings 06/11/2011

- James Storm opened the show with a brilliantly Southern promo, which has become a running theme in the past few weeks. This puts me in a hell of a weird situation, in that a few weeks back when they initially put the World Title on Storm, I was distinctly of the opinion "They've put it on the wrong tag partner! Storm isn't World Champion material!" and I'm happy to say he's completely changed my mind. Only now, just as I'm getting my head around Storm as Champion, they go and put the Title on Roode, which I would've loved three weeks ago, but am seriously questioning now. I hate the lame swerves, but at least Beer Money are opening and closing the show, right. I don't know whether the location of the arena has anything to do with it, but the fans ate up everything Storm had to say and barely responded to Bobby Roode, which is unfortunate.

- On a sidenote, I'm becoming more and more accustomed to seeing Impact inside of a live arena, instead of the Impact Zone. It hasn't produced any noticable ratings bump, but it makes the product look so much more professional. I would advise Spike TV to keep footing the bill for further live tapings, because it'll do wonders in the long term.

- I'm absolutely loving the build for Gail Kim since she returned a couple of weeks ago. Whether it be promos or matches, Gail is on a phenomenal roll. Whatever shackles the WWE had her chained down with, are well and truly gone. I can't believe such talent has been on the sidelines doing nothing for so long. I don't even particularly care that she's been paired with Karen Jarrett and Madison Rayne, as she outshines them both to such a degree that they're largely just background objects. I think it could benefit Gail even further if she left Karen's "protection" and struck out on her own as a loner heel with a vindictive streak. As for the Knockouts Tag Title match itself, it was a solid affair, with Brooke Tessmacher (how long until they drop the Tessmacher completely) coming along in leaps and bounds, even Tara getting back some of the heat she lost in last week's squash against Gail. I don't think the Titles neccessarily had to change hands though, as Tara and Tessmacher had just started gelling as a tag team and even had their own moniker of TNT. Also, Gail's focus is almost exclusively on the singles title, so why drag her into the tag team division for no reason? Still, it does continue her dominance of the Knockouts and I'll be interested to see if she makes it a double, winning the Knockouts Title at Turning Point as well.

- Garrett Bischoff continues to take up valuable airtime and I'm not entirely sure why, other than blatant nepotism. Sure, he got to beatdown Easy E, which I'm sure everyone has fantasised about over the years, but that doesn't make him a wrestler or even a person we should be watching every week on Impact! I'd be interested to hear from anyone in the world who is actually entertained by these Bischoff segments. You can't even call them proper promos, as Garrett mumbles through every single line, never quite making sense and even steps on other people's cues. I've seen soap opera actors better than this kid! The sooner he's off my television, the better! Even worse, this feud exposed a giant gapping plot hole that I've been wondering about ever since Bound for Glory. Namely, how the hell do Immortal continue to have jobs after their administration fell apart and the company reverted to Dixie's control?!?! Eric made some vague comments about ironclad contracts, but what the hell is that contract even for? Because he sure as hell isn't in any position of authority anymore! But you know the real victim of this piece - Ric Flair. I know he can't wrestle anymore, but being Eric's flunky and whaling on referees? This is what it's come to? Oh Ric...

- I took immense enjoyment from the backstage scene between Samoa Joe and Sting. For far too long, Joe has been missing in action. He's had some feuds with Jarrett, Crimson and Morgan in the past year, but those have been so snoozeworthy, they may as well have not been on my television, I paid that much attention. However, with him headlining the show last week and making it known he's still a major player this week, it feels like there's a renewed momentum behind the Samoan Submission Machine. TNA could go forward any number of ways, but this has been a promising start!

- While I haven't really cared for Christopher Daniels delusional rantings about AJ Styles "cheating" at Bound for Glory, what I have cared for is this new pairing with RVD. I believe these two could produce a fascinating feud with any number of quality matches. I find it hilarious every time that Daniels calls him Bob Van Dam. Even funnier was RVD's reaction after their little scuffle "RUN DANIELS, RUN!!!". Somehow my mind didn't interpret that as a threat, but as a Forrest Gump joke. Intended comedy or stoner humour? We'll never know...

- I was pleasantly surprised by the Austin Aries vs Jesse Sorensen match. Not that A Dub doesn't already entertain me week in, week out. However, I would say that Sorensen is in need of serious development in multiple respects. He's been on the roster for about four months now and I don't really know anything about him. He plays up the football jock gimmick, but that doesn't strike me as being as likable as he needs to be. If there's one benefit to having him around, it's Kid Kash's spectacularly offensive rants on commentary! I was already chuckling at his crack about "why would you jump out of a perfectly good wrestling ring UNLESS it were on fire...", but at the end of the match, he let loose with "I'm gonna get my knife and cut that b*tch!". Whoah Kash, where the hell did that come from?!?! Has he been hanging out with Christopher Daniels and his screwdriver again?

- Don't ask me why TNA continue to indulge a Jersey Shore fetish because I'm as puzzled as you. Once was understandable, twice was a little silly, but now we're onto the third damn cast member of that show, I still don't know any of their names and have never watched a single episode in my life! Maybe there's some fabled Jersey Shore/Impact Wrestling crossover audience that I'm not aware of, but at this point, it's wasting more airtime than Garrett Bischoff's mumbling! The segment even started off on the wrong foot by having Eric Young hand the former World Heavyweight Title belt to Ronnie to carry to the ring. That belt had enough problems being carried around by Grizzly Adams, let alone a Z list reality "star". The most gauling thing is that I actually LIKE that belt. It was a wonderful World Title belt to have your top guy carry around. It used to evoke memories of the WWF winged title from the 90s. It was so classy...until Eric Young happened. As you would expect, the segment quickly descended into a brawl between Eric Young & Ronnie vs The Two Robbies and guess what....that's exactly the match we'll be seeing next week, who'd have thunk it! I wasn't even particularly happy with the brawl, with Ronnie recovering from his beating far too quickly and happily for my tastes. Although, if I was forced to compliment one single thing about the segment, it'd be Eric Young's line about "did you just whip him with your belt? That's weird!", which I found a little funny.

- Relating back to a former point, Immortal continue to exist somehow. I could totally understand the talent continue in the company beyond Bound for Glory, as they're still marketable names you'd want on the card. However, what I don't understand is why they're all still a huge faction. Their leader Hulk Hogan (and reason for the faction being called Immortal) has turned his back on them, they don't have any stroke with the administration and I don't even think they like each other personally. Post BFG, they all should've gone their seperate ways, or at the very least changed their faction name so they aren't representing a man who just beat them up. Now they're putting their faith in...Eric Bischoff? This faction should be dead, but it's not.

- Crimson and Matt Morgan have never been my favourite wrestlers. They're stereotypical lumbering giants who have the same slow moveset that they break out on a weekly basis. However, they had a truly ludicrous promo on Impact this week that provided entertainment value just through knowing they believe what they're saying. Apparently, their Twitter accounts have been blowing up! Their fans are desperate to know who would beat who in a fight between the pair! It's a self-billed DREAM MATCH! Reality check guys - who in the hell is asking this question? I'm sure as hell not salivating at the thought of you two locking up. The moment Matt uttered the words dream match, I actually burst out laughing! If anyone is buying the Turning Point PPV for this match, may God have mercy on their souls.

- To close the show, we had a truly wonderful TV mainevent between James Storm and Bobby Roode for the World Heavyweight Championship. Both men knew each other's moves like the back of their hand and as such, we had more than a few reversal sequences, adding to the tension with every failed attempt. In any other promotion, this would've easily headlined a PPV and it should've in this one too. By showcasing this match early, TNA have blown through what could've been six months of captivating television. Hell, I probably would've dragged it out to last a full year with the inevitable heel turn occuring at next year's Bound for Glory. Unfortunately, what we got was the rushed shortsighted version of events, with Bobby Roode turning heel by smashing a beer bottle over James Storm head and winning the World Title in tainted fashion with little to no buildup. I can't argue with the fact that these ARE the right guys you want headlining your show. TNA are lucky to have Storm and Roode, whether it be tag teaming or in singles. But they could've held off on this moment for months and really made us anticipate it. For what it's worth, I did enjoy the moment for what it was. I loved the one camera shot positioned behind the beer bottle, showing the apprehension and temptation on Bobby Roode's face. It added much needed layers to the moment, as if Roode knew it was wrong, but couldn't let the title slip through his hands on a technicality once again. I'm not entirely sure the post-match spitting on Storm's broken body was necessary though. Whatever pathos Roode had brought to the moment of the turn, made no sense with his outright heel persona. Like most things in TNA, it's horribly rushed, but I'll take a win where I can.